Women’s Day March unites a larger community

Kelly Fritz ties a piece of paper with the names of women that inspire her at “the Women’s March on Washington Call for Action celebration of Women’s Day” on Wednesday March 8, 2017 at the Fountain Square Park. Fritz wrote down her best friend, Leslie Knope, from the TV show Parks and Rec, and her mother. Fritz said she admires these three women for “speaking up for what is right even when it’s hard to do.”

Rebekah Alvey

Students, faculty and community members gathered to parade from campus to downtown Bowling Green in celebration of International Women’s Day. 

The event was hosted in response to the Women’s March on Washington and their sponsored “A Day Without Women.”

The intention was for women to take the day off work, both paid and unpaid, avoid shopping for a day unless the business is locally owned or wear red in support. 

Associate Art Professor Kristina Arnold organized the event in 36 hours after hearing about the events with the help of Bowling Green Social Justice Clearinghouse.

Arnold explained they had committed to doing ten acts in the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency along with the Women’s March on Washington movement. These have been post card writing, a group meeting and the March 8 strike. 

Arnold said she thought it was important to illustrate the economic and everyday importance of women, however realized not everyone could participate in the strike.

“It didn’t feel like an option to illustrate that with an absence so I wanted to illustrate it with a presence,” Arnold said.

She said the purpose of the parade was to have a celebratory attitude for the day to reinforce the joy in uniting with a community for a cause. 

During her introductory and closing remarks, Arnold repeated “we showed up,” to the point where the crowd was chanting it with her. She described it as an essential idea because participating and fighting for something after repeatedly being told no is difficult, which makes showing up for events like the parade important. 

The event started at Cherry Hall with sign making activity. From there, waves of people paraded to the Square where they held a celebration featuring guest speakers. 

Leading the parade was a banner reading, “We will create a stronger, safer, more inclusive BGKY for all.” Later in the night, participants were encouraged to sign the banner. 

People were also able to write the names of women who inspired them on a piece of paper and hang it on a clothes line. Many people wrote their mothers or figures who have impacted them. 

Cheryl Hopson, an assistant professor in African American studies and literature who spoke at the event, said she comes from strong women and her goal is to always make them proud.

There was a diverse group of people in attendance for the parade, all with different concerns in mind. 

Zona Ascensio, a masters student at WKU, said she wanted to show her daughter women’s rights are important especially after in the current political climate.

“I want to emphasize that we do not give up the fight,” Ascencio said.

Her daughter, Sonora, 13, said she willingly came to the parade because she believes it’s important for women to be accepted and appreciated in society.

The recent election was a common concern among paraders. Freshman Tesla Like said she believes the next four years will be a challenge and if the movement can’t stand together now, it will become even harder. 

Like explained she hopes all different types of women can unite together at events like the parade. 

In attendance were several men as well, voicing a sometimes unheard side of the movement. Senior Brandyn Atherton said he showed up to support a modern movement towards equality and believes women in history and still today are treated as lesser.

Senior Nicholas Smith explained it was important for him to participate because he believes if he shows up, more people will be inspired to as well. 

Along with pro women’s rights posters were Black Lives Matter and pro transgender mottos. Among the guest speakers were members of the African American and LGBTQ communities. 

“Our issues are not single sided, therefore they cannot be singley addressed in single ways,” Nubian Sun, assistant professor of social work, said. 

Sun explained there are many communities inside the movement and it is essential to work together to achieve their goals. 

Arnold said she wasn’t sure what to expect with the turnout, but she was excited when more and more people started arriving. 

To show support in Bowling Green, while the parade and celebration was going on, people on the streets were honking and cheering. 

Senior Montana Hatfield said it says a lot about the community that so many people who don’t each other are uniting to argue for women’s rights.

Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].